West Yorkshire Police commissioner in pledge not to pay celebrities to front campaigns (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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West Yorkshire Police commissioner in pledge not to pay celebrities to front campaigns
Former BBC news reader Christa Ackroyd was paid £1,000 to appear at a West Yorkshire Police ceremony celebrating the force’s street-level heroes, it has been revealed.
But the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, has vowed that no celebrities will be paid to front awards ceremonies while he is in charge.
The Bradford-born TV presenter, who was reportedly earning £200,000 a year with the Corporation before she left in the summer, received the money from the organisers of the force’s Excel Awards in March last year.
The awards celebrate employees who had gone above and beyond the call of duty. Her fee was paid by sponsors.
Her name was among those of television presenters, former sports stars and actors who were recruited by police around the country to front safety campaigns and attend awards nights.
The list, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, showed police forces paid nearly £30,000 to hire the celebrities, although many of the fees were covered by sponsorship.
Mr Burns-Williamson said the annual Excel awards didn’t cost the taxpayer anything as they were covered by sponsorship, and that the cost of holding them was dropping year-by-year.
He said: “The costs will continue to reduce and the emphasis on this event should continue to be about celebrating the achievements of our police staff and officers.
“The sponsorship payment for comperes have not been made since my election and there will not be support for the payment of celebrities for awards while I am Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire."
Councillor Imran Hussain, deputy leader of Bradford Council, who also sits on the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, said he could not comment on Miss Ackroyd's payment because he had not seen the full facts and figures but as a general principle he said all police funding had to be spent in the best way possible.
He said: “These are very difficult times where frontline policing is being affected and police force finances are facing big cuts so it is clear wherever possible the police should try to make sure where money is spent that it is spent in the best possible way to serve the public.”
Miss Ackroyd was also one of several celebrities hired by South Yorkshire Police. Fellow BBC presenter Harry Gration was used seven times by the South Yorkshire force between 2007 and July this year but the force said it was not able to provide costs, saying they were covered by sponsors.
A total of 42 police forces were asked for information contacted as part of an investigation by the Press Association. Nine refused to give details due to time restrictions and another 25 forces said they had no evidence of them making payments to celebrities.
Total payments made by the police forces which replied to the information request came to £28,687.20.
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